Thursday, February 25, 2021

The EU has decided to impose sanctions on four Russian officials


Diplomats did not name or provide more information about those who will be subject to sanctions, but the move seems to disappoint those who have called for strong retaliation against Moscow.

Mr Navaln’s comrades and European lawmakers called on participants in the ministerial meeting in Brussels to target the oligarchs who funded Vladimir Putin’s regime.

However, diplomats said that this punitive measure – which will be applied for the first time under the new EU regime of sanctions for human rights violations – is directed against those directly involved in the crackdown.

“These will be targeted, proportionate and legally binding sanctions,” said one high-ranking diplomat.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell must now officially announce the names of those who will be sanctioned in the coming days, the source said.

“Clear evidence is needed”

During a press conference on Monday, Mr Borrell confirmed that a political agreement on sanctions against Russia had been reached.

“In response to the events surrounding Mr Navaln, we have reached a political agreement on the development of restrictive measures against those responsible for his arrest, prosecution and verdict,” said the EU’s chief diplomat.

“I hope that everything will be decided soon. Maybe it will take a week. I hope no longer, “he added, but did not mention any specific names.

Josepas Borrellis

The media quoted sources earlier as saying that sanctions could be announced to Alexander Bastyrkin, head of the Russian investigation committee, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, Attorney General Igor Krasnov, and Alexander Kalashnikov, director of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).

The head of Community diplomacy explained that EU sanctions could be imposed on people directly involved in the situation with Mr Navalnu.

“Sanctions require clear evidence that the person was directly involved in the events we are considering,” Mr Borrell said.

“We cannot impose sanctions just because we don’t like something,” he added in response to a journalist’s question about why the EU does not want to think about sanctions against Russian businesses.

A. Navalno’s comrades call for targeting of the oligarchs

The position vis-à-vis Moscow tightened after Mr Borrell’s unsuccessful trip to Russia, during which Moscow announced the expulsion of three European diplomats.

According to Borrel, his trip to Russia made EU member states aware of the need to impose sanctions on Russia.

The EU has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Russia on several occasions for the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and incitement to war in eastern Ukraine.

In October, the bloc added six officials to the list of sanctions related to last year’s poisoning of A. Navalnas with the nerve-paralyzing substance “Novičiok”.

Putin’s most prominent critic was sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison this month after returning to Russia after treatment in Germany.

The verdict has also provoked mass protests in many Russian cities, during which thousands of people have been detained by security forces.

Navaln’s close associates met with eight EU foreign ministers and several community ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday and called for sanctions against Putin’s closest allies, including the oligarchs.

“If it is only 10 Kremlin officials who do not go abroad and do not have funds abroad, then they will certainly not be very painful,” Leonid Volkov, one of these comrades, told reporters.

Myanmar, Venezuela

Before taking a decision on Russia, EU foreign ministers said the Community was “ready” to impose sanctions on officials directly responsible for the military coup in Myanmar.

Ministers called for “de-escalation of the current crisis” caused by the military coup of 1 February and for the return of civilian rule in the country.

Ministers also agreed to add 19 Venezuelan officials to the EU’s sanctions list for “undermining democracy” and human rights abuses following the Community’s declaration of undemocratic parliamentary elections in December.

Ministers also discussed the ongoing repression in Belarus, with the EU considering a fourth package of sanctions against the regime of President Aliaksandr Lukashenko.

The meeting also discussed China’s actions against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, assessing whether the EU should tighten its response to Beijing’s increasingly harsh measures.

During the first full-fledged distance talks with the Community by US Chief of Diplomacy Antony Blinken, the focus shifted to cooperation between the two sides to defuse tensions that had increased during the term of former US President Donald Trump.

They were to consider the possibility of forming a united front against common opponents such as Russia and China, as well as efforts to return the United States to the circle of countries that adhere to the agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

The EU is currently looking forward to holding a meeting in Washington, Tehran and other signatories, including Russia, to discuss how to rescue the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), from which Mr Trump withdrew in 2018.





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